The Explorer Timberline is the most off-road-capable version of Ford’s SUV

More than just aesthetics
by Drei Laurel | May 6, 2021
PHOTO: Ford
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The Ford Explorer has made its name in the world of SUVs, so much so that we wouldn’t blame the American carmaker just decided to sit back and rest on its laurels regarding its development. Thankfully, this isn’t the case and the brand continues to come up with ways to keep the nameplate interesting.

The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline

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Like this. Ford simply could have slapped some non-functional aesthetics and labeled a special variant as a rugged new release. Instead, we have the Explorer Timberline— supposedly the model’s most off-road-capable version yet.

The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline - Tires and Visible Underchassis

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So, what’s Ford done here then? For starters, this variant’s ride height has been raised by 20mm, while its minimum ground clearance now sits at 221mm—both changes come courtesy of altered front and rear fascias, as well as shocks originally developed for the Ford Interceptor. The latter change has also resulted in improved approach (23.5 degrees) and departure (23.7 degrees) angles.

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The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline - Angled Profile View

The brand has also equipped this SUV with a Torsen limited-slip rear differential that sends torque to the wheel with the most traction, tuned stabilizer bars and springs, as well as high-sidewall Bridgestone Dueler all-terrains that supposedly balance on- and off-road performance. Oh, and you get your usual state-of-the-art terrain management gizmos and settings as well.

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Steel skid plates also protect the underbody from taking damage when things get rough, and powering this SUV is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost with 300hp and 320Nm of torque paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline - Dashboard

The Timberline also gets quite a few upgrades when it comes to looks, too. Aesthetic changes include a new Forged Green Metallic paint job, blacked-out headlamps and taillights, a blacked-out Ford badge, Timberline badging, red tow hooks, high-gloss painted aluminum wheels, and a new Carbonized Gray grille.

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The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline - Rim Detail

Now this is a legitimate off-road-capable release—not just a bunch of cosmetic add-ons meant to ruggedize the standard version’s appearance. Is this something you’d be confident in taking off the beaten path?

The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline - Tow Hitch

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PHOTO: Ford
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